the internet-generation poets who are making the web a little weirder
Five writers who prove that for every ten thousand animal videos on YouTube, there’s also a clip that might make you smarter.
Bunny Rogers photographed by Kate Owen
Internet poets are modern troubadours, elevating digital life into literature as they travel from URL to URL. i-D combed the internet in search of the top five videos of Internet-affiliated writers reading from their work IRL — which is kind of meta, if you think about it.
"Every nosebleed I have I'll think of you," Bunny Rogers recites in this clip. Foregoing her signature pigtails and/or bunny ears, she reads from her recently published book of poetry, My Apologies Accepted, at the artist-run Model Projects in Vancouver. Her poetry, Tumblr archives, and art — she has a second solo show coming up at Société gallery in Berlin this year — often have the trappings of fetishized prepubescence as they explore online identity and intimacy, but not always. Poems like "The only way you can enjoy revenge is if you are insane" stand on their insight alone.
Steve Roggenbuck is the Internet poet of the moment — his homemade videos can be found playing on a loop near the basement bathrooms of the New Museum for its triennial, Surround Audience. (Roggenbuck had originally envisioned his work playing in the bathroom, which would have been amazing). There's a strong performative element in Steve's work, which features him as a televangelist poet who accentuates misspelled, all-caps words with strings of exclamation marks. Watch his video "Never Give Up. If You Give Up, Fuck You" — it'll motivate you to practice football.
Marie isn't exactly a poet, but her writing is pretty poetic. Any list of online writers wouldn't be complete without her. Marie appeared on the literary scene back in 2011, when she published a story about her sexual relationship with a well-known journalist she referred to as "Adrien Brody." Her refreshingly unromantic, introspective accounts of her sexploits and relationships with the opposite gender added a new kind of anti-erotica subgenre to feminist literature. She later followed up with What Purpose Did I Serve In Your Life in 2013, an autobiography of her sex life that was notably banned from the Dr. Phil show for calling a dick a dick. In the clip above, Marie reads from What Purpose at the launch of the book at the Strand in New York.
Crispin Best lives on the Internet in London, according to his website bio, and his poetry is witty, sardonic, endearing, and often in all lower-case letters. In this reading at Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn, Best reads from his poem "The Illumanti Jokebook," which includes the very fine line: "I'm an optimist/that's what I like about you."
Lena Dunham included Mira's book of poetry, i will never be beautiful enough to make us beautiful together, in her 2014 best books list for The Guardian. She said it "brings experimental poetry into the Internet age with dark, distinctly female riffs on ambition, depression and love." It's an accurate endorsement. If you're looking to change your life, consider following Mira on Twitter — it's a great source for meditation prompts like "how do I turn this emotional baggage into cold, hard cash." Here she reads from her book at Webster Hall in New York.
Text Hannah Ghorashi
Photography Kate Owen